A key theme in Great Expectations and April Raintree is the growth and change of the characters towards their acceptance of social class. This will be proven by Pip not accepting himself in the lower class and April not accepting herself in the native class. Then, there will be proof of how Pip and April attempted to change their social class. Finally the proof of how Pip accepted himself in the social class he was in and how April accepted herself as a Mï¿½tis.
Pip did not accept himself in the lower class. He wanted to be in the upper class just like Miss Havisham is. Pip was ashamed of his family and its lower class status. How he wasn’t as fortunate as Estella who is a member of the higher class, especially when Estella insulted Pip saying that he is “common” and how he has “coarse hands”. He did not have a reason to think about his class status before this, and now that he does, he’s disturbed to think he might be just “common.” This ensured Pip to not accept himself in the lower class.
He didn’t see any good from it. Pip felt he needed to impress Estella. She was the one who changed Pip’s perspective in everything. Before meeting Estella, Pip really looked up to Joe, blacksmith or a gentleman, Joe’s class status makes no difference. It is not until later, when he learns that the world cares about class, that’s when Joe’s status mattered to Pip. After seeing Estella’s house and everything she had, he wanted more to look forward to. Pip did not accept his life in the lower class.
April is a young woman who has so many issues with her family and the people in her life. April always hid her feelings of shame from her sister Cheryl. April did not accept herself in the native class. Although she did not look native, she was sometimes ashamed that her sister Cheryl looked more native than she did. “There were two different groups of children that went to the park. One group was brown-skinned children who looked like Cheryl in most ways. They were dirty-looking and they dressed in real raggedy cloths. I didn’t care to play with them at all. The other group was fair-skinned and I envied them especially the girls with blonde hair and blue eyes. They seemed so clean and fresh. Some of them were freckled but they didn’t seem to mind. To me, I imagined they were very rich and lived in big, beautiful houses. I wondered what their lives were like and I wished we could play with them. But they didn’t care to play with Cheryl and me.
They just called us names and bullied us.” (Pg. 6) Since April was young, she always wanted to be with the people who were fair-skinned. She didn’t like seeing her sister being called names especially, when they had to live with the DeRosiers. Half breeds were all that was said in that house. “I heard you half breeds were dirty but now I can see that it’s true.” (Unknown :() At one point, April hated being Mï¿½tis. She felt that being Mï¿½tis changed her life because when you think of Mï¿½tis, you think of living off the streets and bums on Main Street. She wasn’t any of these and she didn’t want to be labelled as them. She was not happy being the person she knew she was. April did not accept her life in the native class.
Pip changed his social class by going off to school to become a gentleman. He was lucky to have a benefactor. “I’ve put away money, only for you to spend. When I was a hired-out shepherd in a solitary hut, not seeing no faces but faces of sheep till I half-forgot wot men’s and women’s faces wos like, I see yourn. . . . I see you there a many times plain as ever I see you on them misty marshes. ‘Lord strike me dead!’ I says each time-and I goes out in the open air to say it under the open heavens-‘but wot, if I gets liberty and money, I’ll make that boy a gentleman!’ And I done it.” (pg. 340) Magwitch reveals himself as Pip’s secret benefactor and how he got all his wealth. This quote changed Pip’s idealistic view of wealth and social class by forcing him to realize that his own status as a gentleman is owed to the loyalty of a lower-class criminal.
Year after year, he moved further away from Joe and his lower class. “Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man’s a blacksmith, and one’s a whitesmith, and one’s a goldsmith, and one’s a coppersmith. Divisions among such must come, and must be met as they come.” (pg. 236) Joe comes with a smart and content attitude toward the changes in Pip’s social class that have driven them apart, and he shows his goodness and loyalty by blaming the division not on Pip but on the unchangeable nature of the human condition. Pip as a gentleman makes a lot of money and as he gets wealthy, he forgets his family and the people that are important to him. In other words, he worries about trying to impress people, rather than being moral.
April Raintree changed her identity of a native by marrying a rich white man named Bob Radcliff. She always wanted to be rich and forget about her heritage. She moved away from Winnipeg to Toronto. She tried running away from the life she did not want, to try to live a life she wanted. “You think I don’t know why you married Bob? It was to get away from me, that’s why. I’ll be you wished you were an only child. I bet you wished I was dead.” (pg. 155) It was almost like she did not want Cheryl in her life at all. “You never loved that man. You loved his money. You figured you were going to be Miss High Society.” (pg. 158) April did not love Bob Radcliff; she only married him for his money.
Pip learns from his mistakes growing up. After realizing what kind of person he has become, and how he has treated his loved ones, he felt he was better off being in the lower class. Pip realized that wealth and class are less important than affection, loyalty, and inner worth. When he is finally able to understand that, besides the esteem in which he holds Estella, someone’s social status is not what so ever connected to that someone’s character. Bentley Drummle is a symbol to this because even though he is a minor character, he gave an important message. Drummle is an upper class member. He gave Pip proof that social class has no connection to attitude, personality or moral worth. Drummle’s negative example helps Pip to see the inner worth of characters such as Magwitch and Joe, and Pip eventually scraped his immature fantasies about wealth and class. Everything changes for Pip after he learns the class status of his benefactor because he realized that Magwitch, a kind-hearted man who was never able to come out of the status into which he was born but in the end he was able to get wealthy.
April realized that she wasn’t happy with Bob, so they got a divorce. From that divorce, she received a good amount of money. She immediately went back home to her sister, but things were not good between Cheryl and April. After Cheryl committed suicide, April found her diaries and read them. She finally realized what Cheryl has gone through while April wasn’t in her life and what she thought of everything especially what she thought of April. April accepted being Mï¿½tis then and there. Like her sister, she is proud to be Mï¿½tis. Since she loved Cheryl, she was glad that a part of Cheryl was alive in her son, Henry Liberty. “All life dies to give new life.” (pg. 184) It was tragic that it had taken Cheryl’s death to bring April to accept her identity but she would strive for a better tomorrow now. For her sister and her son, her parents and her people.
In conclusion, Pip accepted himself in the social class that he used to be in. Even though he remained in the higher class, Pip realized that he still cared for his loved ones in the lower class. For April, she accepted herself in the social class she was born in. Even though Cheryl’s life had to be taken away before April realized how important her heritage was. Pip carried a snobby attitude for a great portion of his life. He treated the people he loved without realization of how he wasn’t respectful towards them.
April had tried hiding, she had attempted to be someone she’s not, she had tried being with someone she didn’t love, and she had also undertook to blocking her own sister out of her life. No matter what April did, she couldn’t get away from what she really was inside. She was born Mï¿½tis. She just didn’t feel proud of it nor did she want to be Mï¿½tis. Pip and April both had issues with the people in their lives and they both found their true identities from being ashamed of their social class to peace with their lives.